Tips for a successful 4-H Club – Part 1

Youth development and what every 4-H volunteer should know.

As the new 4-H year begins, every 4-H leader should know these basic facts about 4-H. By reminding ourselves that 4-H is more than completing club projects, 4-H members will learn and grow together. Volunteer leaders play a critical role in the development of youth. By incorporating the Michigan Guiding Principles, National 4-H Essential Elements and the 4-H Pledge clubs can become vibrant examples of positive youth development.

What is 4-H Youth Development?

The National 4-H Mission
4-H empowers youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults.

Children and Youth Institute Mission Statement Michigan State University Extension
To provide community-based educational experiences to diverse audiences of children, youth and the parents and adults that support them resulting in the development of assets that help children and youth thrive and contribute in a complex and changing world.

Michigan’s 4-H Mission
Our mission is to create informal, educational opportunities to help youth thrive in a complex and changing world.

Michigan 4-H Youth Development has committed itself to seven guiding principles. They are:

  • Youth develop positive relationships with adults and peers.
  • Youth are physically and emotional safe.
  • Youth are actively engaged in their own development.
  • Youth are considered participants rather than recipients in their own learning processes.
  • Youth develop skills that help them succeed.
  • Youth recognize, understand and appreciate diversity and multiculturalism.
  • Youth grow and contribute as active citizens through service and leadership.

The 4-H Pledge
The pledge reinforces the essential elements of 4-H.

I pledge my head to clearer thinking…youth need to know they are able to influence people and events through clear decision making and action. These youth are confident, responsible leaders. (Essential element six: Opportunity to see oneself as an active participant in the future. Essential element seven: Opportunity for self-determination.)

I pledge my heart to greater loyalty…Belonging to 4-H adds a positive ingredient to lives of youth. It is important for youth to have long term consistent relationships with adults other than parents. (Essential element one: Positive relationship with a caring adult. Essential element two: An inclusive environment. Essential element three: A safe environment)

I pledge my hands to larger service…Youth need to feel their lives have meaning and purpose. Through community service projects youth connect to the larger communities and give back to others. (Essential element eight: Opportunity to value and practice service for others.)

I pledge my health to better living for my club, my community, my country and my world…Youth must experience success at solving problems. They are motivated to choose positive methods to reach outcomes and goals. (Essential element four: Engagement in Learning. Essential element five: Opportunity for mastery.)

Each time a member says the 4-H pledge, remember these essential elements.

The Michigan Guiding Principles, National Essential Elements and 4-H Pledge are the foundation of 4-H Youth Development. An understanding of these tools will enhance the club experience for members and leaders alike.

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